Provide A Secure Home For Shy Lowen

Provide A Secure Home For Shy Lowen

6 June 2022
Signatures: 3,142Next Goal: 5,000
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Why this petition matters

 During October and November 2020 a petition was active regarding the expiration of the lease of the Sefton Council owned land at Buckley Hill Lane which has been occupied by Shy Lowen Horse and Pony Sanctuary since 1999. 

The petition was included in a full Council meeting on 19th November 2020 and the motion moved at that meeting to resolve the issue has not been honoured. Sefton Council are ignoring our efforts to achieve a resolution to the lease issue and are thus making it impossible for Shy Lowen to work towards all of our charitable objectives.

The expiration of our lease was in August 2020. Since January 2017 we began to seek a resolution but Sefton council did not wish to discuss the lease then, although we were assured that a renewal would be possible. 

In March 2019 we reopened negotiations, and in May 2020 received the renewal offer to provide a 99 year lease although we wanted to own the site - we had asked Sefton Council for the opportunity to purchase the land whilst being aware that under the Community Asset Transfer Laws that it is possible to for a Local Authority to gift a lease or ownership of property with the appropriate covenants attached. We were advised that Sefton Council considers us to be a commercial operation so the lease would be charged at commercial rates, to obtain the best possible outcome for their assets. The figures quoted were to maintain the current rental figure of £1100.00 per year, plus an additional upfront payment of £85000.00. That figure is more than the land purchase value. Alternatively, we could accept a 45% increase in our rent to be reviewed after 14 years. 

This came as a shock to us, as the best possible outcome seemed to be measured only in monetary value. We would urge Sefton Council to consider social and environmental outcomes as well as economic ones, especially when gained from a property which was at best a massive liability for the council at the outset of our arrangement. The cost of clearing 800 tons of rubble and ancillary rubbish from this site was estimated at well in excess of £100,000, but we completed this task and it cost the council nothing. As a registered charity, we were also aware of other charitable organisations in Sefton who have been gifted property for public benefit or given ‘peppercorn’ lease agreements. 

Social media, local press and radio interest led to renegotiation and a hard-fought agreement to remove the upfront fee and hold the rent at £1100.00 was made. We reluctantly accepted these terms as we felt we would have no other option than to leave the site we have occupied and developed over the last 21 years. The terms were finalised in May 2020 but the attempts to obtain a workable agreement have failed as the terms required by Sefton Council incorporating a 5 year development licence prior to the inception of any lease render it impossible to raise the required funds to make the site the community asset it really could be. This in turn means we would not be granted the agreed 99 year lease. Our legal and financial advisors outlined a proposal which effectively removes this problem and so we wrote to Sefton Council in January 2022 outlining how this would work. Sefton Council are not responding to any of our efforts to resolve this matter and are not acknowledging our correspondence. This is at odds with the 19th November 2020 meeting when Councillor Lappin moved a motion stating ''What we intend to do is to continue to negotiate with Shy Lowen which I have continually said are an absolutely excellent organisation and we fully support them. We are in negotiations in relation to the lease. The lease has been submitted to them and we hope to actually finalise by the end of this year.' The fact is that there have been no negotiations since that motion was moved and seconded and the format of the lease submitted to us by Sefton MBC is unworkable.

Shy Lowen ponies, who we pay to be licensed by Sefton Council, feature at council community events in all the parks and gardens, giving pony rides to residents. When there’s no budget to donate, we still attend at our own cost because we want to share some joy with communities. We offer volunteer opportunities to all ages from 10 years upwards, and this alone has led to many disadvantaged young people from the Sefton area pursuing career opportunities that would otherwise not have been open to them. For example, several have gone on to achieve university degrees in equine science subjects, three have relocated to Newmarket to progress in the prestigious horse racing industry with one training to be a farrier, another is training to become a qualified veterinary nurse in a local practice, and several more have remained with us to train as Equine Assisted Therapy Practitioners. We offer ethical horse-riding opportunities free of charge or at low cost. Our rescued animals ‘pay it forward’, and we fervently hope that inspires the people who meet them to do the same and to recognise their own gifts which they can tap into to improve the world.

Our therapeutic interventions have been the subject of national TV documentaries and regional news reports, and are lauded not just in Sefton, but throughout the world, a fact which appears to have been missed by our own local authority. Our work utilises the innate ability of the horse, being a prey animal, to mirror the emotions of the human, being a predator. It is successful with children but it is also successful with adults as our work with the homeless, people in addiction and military veterans has proven many times over.

We are employers, with 7 staff members, all of whom are Sefton Residents. We have 6 sessional workers who include a BACP registered counsellor and a psychologist. We provide significant support to Sefton based businesses with our current spend of over £55,000.00 per year in feed, bedding, equipment and animal waste removal.

We are multiple award winners providing our region with much needed national and international positive publicity. 

The use we want to put the 8.5 acre site to includes the current operations with additional community benefits, and is:

To provide stabling for rescue horses and ponies and for the grazing of said horses and ponies.

To provide an education centre for teaching children about horses and ponies.

To provide horse and pony rehabilitation, training and rehoming.

To provide a volunteer program for children, young people and adults, 

To provide mental health therapeutic provision for children, young people and adults, 

To provide accredited equine assisted therapy practitioner training, 

To provide alternative curriculum education provision, 

To provide horse riding lessons, 

To provide community events,

To provide free access to outdoor space, 

To provide an accessible to all abilities Community Nature Trail supporting the wild environment


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Signatures: 3,142Next Goal: 5,000
Support now